A True Spiritual Warrior- Anthony Pillage

In February 2015, Martial Arts coach Anthony Pillage was given the worst news imaginable when doctors told him that he only had 6 months left to live. With hours of chemotherapy undergone and a lot of dedication required, he successfully conquered the tumour that had grown in his chest. However, earlier this year he found out that the cancer (Thymic Carcinoma) had struck back and this time in numbers.

Nevertheless, it has not deterred him away from telling his story to the public and trying to influence those in similar situations. His book Breaking Bob, which was released last December, expresses the story of how he had to fight to overcome adversity and keep on living. On Saturday, he held a talk in Far Gosford Village where he recited parts of his book, discussed his Martial Arts career and delved further into what it takes to live with and fight cancer.

“You just don’t have time” he told us, “I’ve kind of adapted a Buddhist philosophy. You can’t make plans to do things because you don’t know how you’re going to feel. Some days I wake up and I can’t do anything. You just have to live life on a day to day basis.”

Why the Book?

Breaking Bob has racked up over 1000 sales on Amazon and is based on the accumulation of posts that Tony- nicknamed Pillages Maximus by friends- wrote throughout his ordeal.

When asked why he decided to take to social media to share his thoughts and feelings on what is a sensitive topic, he explained: “it just really helped with the process. It helped me get over, what is a scary and serious thing. I used Facebook to express myself and I found that I got a lot of support. From then on it sort of morphed into a book.”

It was a platform where Tony could release built up anxiety and gain inspiration from the overwhelming support that he received. Now he wants it to be his turn to give out hope and not just for those suffering from cancer.

“I am targeting everyone [with the book]. It reached number one in the biography category on Kindle. Surviving cancer can give hope to others in tough situations, not only those suffering from diseases”.

A fellow Martial Arts trainer, Goran Powell, explained how the book, for him, helped him “get beyond the shock of someone you know going through such an ordeal”.

He said Tony’s “captivating writing- swinging happily between touching humility and bombastic swagger” had him “cheering him all the way”. He was “inspired by Tony’s battle and his willingness to share so openly.”

Its success shows how emotional and motivating his writing is and is supported by the tremendous reception it received on Amazon. It has gained 51 customer reviews and every single one has given the book five stars out of a possible five. Many in the comments have praised his book as “INSPIRING!!” and a piece of “beautiful work…I laughed through the tears”.



The title of the book may seem unordinary, however, once you dive into it you begin to understand the meaning.

Tony, who runs the Way of the Spiritual Warrior martial arts club, named his tumour Bob after a character from his most loved TV show- Blackadder. He described “that not long after my diagnoses, actor Rik Mayall had died. He played one of my favourite characters on the show- Lord Flashheart. There was a scene where he falls in love with this other character called Bob who was a woman impersonating a man. They ended up running off together and that’s where I got the name from.”

Although the cover of the book has several links to the TV series Breaking Bad, in which protagonist Walter White also suffers from cancer, Tony insisted that this was only done when the book was coming together and had no relevance when naming his tumour.

What now for the Spiritual Warrior?

Since Tony found out about the return of the tumours, he has once again been helping others with his empathic attitude. On Saturday he organised an event in which he spoke to over 80 people about his experiences thus far and continues to teach at his Martial Arts school in Foleshill Road.

He had also set up a Just Giving page, where he asked for donations so that he can afford treatments from the world famous Breakspear Clinic, as this time chemotherapy is unfortunately not an option.

This larger than life character, who had already accumulated so many accolades in his life which include: Worlds Martial Arts TV personality of the year and Coventry Sporting Hero of 2014, also organised the world’s first martial arts awards ceremony for disabled people. He is now in another battle for his life, against an opponent who stronger than anything he has beaten previously. However, with help from the ‘Pillage Army’ and those reading, this Spiritual Warrior can once again overcome cancer.


Patrick Stenson

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